I stumbled upon a blog by Len Gutman writing for Vally PR Blog (right here in Phoenix) called Choose the Right Person for Your Product and thought this might be a good topic as we were discussing in class the other day how to determine who should, and should not, be a spokesperson for your organization, product or client. In the post, Gutman talks about a recent interview General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz did with Stephen Colbert on his Comedy Central show promoting the new Chevy Volt electric car. I actually saw this episode of the Colbert report and thought it was odd how non-chalant Lutz was about the new car but didn’t really think about it from a PR point of view until I saw this post.
In the Colbert interview (the video is in the post), Lutz gives some very dry and unflattering answers to Colbert’s quips about how unsexy an electric car is and its lack of race car-style speed. Gutman concludes in his post that Lutz succeeded only in undermining the product by his lack of enthusiasm.
What I find interesting also about this post are the two comments: one which responds that Lutz’s unpolished, laidback approach is refreshing in an overly polished media/publicity scene, and one saying that while the interview is pretty funny, Lutz was obviously the wrong guy for GM to send for this product. Also, looking at it now, it does seem that Lutz was an odd choice for an interview that would be viewed by a largely liberal audience that would likely be very much for the idea of an electric car. I personally would have chosen someone more enthusiastic, and probably younger.
Do you think that the comic relief of this publicity opportunity was a complete turn off to consumers? Or, that GM’s message came across regardless of Lutz’s offbeat, and off point, answers. Would Lutz have been a better spokesperson for a different crowd, like at an automotive design convention, and someone more upbeat would be better suited to an audience at the Colbert Report?